This dog was seen wandering around in Burns Lake and some comments suggested that he was almost hit by cars on the highway. (Burns Lake Lost and Found pets photo/Lakes District News)

This dog was seen wandering around in Burns Lake and some comments suggested that he was almost hit by cars on the highway. (Burns Lake Lost and Found pets photo/Lakes District News)

Burns Lake pets out and about

The problem of pets wandering off or being abused on the rise

There has been a rise in posts on the Burns Lake Lost and Found pets group with pets found roaming around, away from their homes in cold weather.

In 2020 alone, the village picked up nine strays and in 2021, there has been one stray that the village has picked up, according to the village Chief Administrative Officer, Sheryl Worthing.

While all of the strays in 2020 were pets and were returned to the owners, there are so many strays that are found roaming around and are returned to the owners before the village has to intervene.

“2021 dog licences are now required for all dogs within the village boundaries, Lake Babine Nation, and Burns Lake Band,” said Worthing. The annual cost of a dog licence is $20 according to the village but for details and questions, community members are being encouraged to contact the village office.

If a stray is not licensed, it becomes tougher for the village to return the animal to its owners. Starting December 2020 up until Jan. 15 of this year, there have been over 10 posts inquiring about strays from dogs, cats, chickens to even a horse that ran away.

“Sadly, very often strays end up getting hit by cars and seriously injured or killed. Dogs who have not been spayed or neutered account for 85 per cent of the animals hit on the road. Any dogs impounded by the village will be held for a time (check the bylaws for details), then they will go to an animal shelter. Our nearest dog shelters are in Smithers and Prince George,” said Alistair Schroff of Lakes Animal Friendship Society (LAFS) in an email to Lakes District News.

Schroff also said that if a dog is posing a danger or safety risk, they could be picked up under the Village Animal Control Bylaw and any additional questions on the bylaw itself could be answered by the village.

“We are very concerned about the increase in numbers of roaming animals and the problems we hear regarding animal neglect and cruelty. While most animal guardians are doing the right thing, there needs to be systems in place to deal with situations where animals are not getting proper care. So obviously some systems need work,” said Alistair Schroff of LAFS in an email to Lakes District News.

There has been an increase in animal cruelty cases in the area in recent times.

“Yes there is animal cruelty in the Burns Lake area. Two fairly high profile animal seizures by the BC SPCA have happened in our area in recent years. Both instances involved many animals. We hear of other situations periodically, involving dogs and cats as well as other companion animals and livestock,” said Schroff, adding, “We have absolutely no tolerance for animal cruelty.”

While LAFS itself doesn’t have a shelter, they report any suspected cases of cruelty to the authorities and always encourage community members to do so as well. Schroff also pointed out that a strong link between cruelty to animals and harm to people can often be found and that animal abuse is one of the strongest indicators that violence toward humans in a household exists.

“We like to say that ‘happy, healthy animals are part of happy, healthy families and communities’ — and we really mean it. When animals are not getting proper care, the animals are suffering, families are suffering and the community suffers. If we choose to be the guardian of an animal, we are making a life long commitment to proper care. And if we really want to tackle problems, we really need the community involved,” he said.

With the upcoming cold weather please keep your pets warm.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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